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Catholicism took seventeen centuries to grant liberty of expression that enabled science, invention, art and literature to flourish. An American President took just over four years into his presidency to set a precedent by endorsing homosexual marriage. That's bubbled up wide-ranging negative-positive views across the world. Being black, did Barack Obama empathise better with discrimination that non-mainstream people are subjected to?
Pede comme un phoque (French slang, "gay like a seal") is how my colleagues had cautioned me when I was assigned to assist Maitre Arte, Russian-born French Art Deco artist, to clean scratches in his lithographic prints on paper. That was my first brush with the concept of homosexuality. As a 20-year-old sweeper in a lithography paint shop near Paris in 1974, I didn't understand their warning as I still couldn't speak French. I deeply revered this first art master I'd met, a gracious and creative person who treated me as an equal artist, saying, "Art is a silent giant that stays, it's never obsolete." Arte trained me that, "Art does not sell by itself. It's not like physics or chemistry with self reaction to move. As an artist you have to make art go places." After he migrated to the US and
became a famous designer, I came to know he was a homosexual. Because the first homosexual I'd ever met was Arte, whose talent and love for people is etched in my memory, I've become a supporter of the gay community.
Jean Francois Trouve, a most talented business principal in my Paris office who'd worked ten years with me, makes no bones about being gay. I'll never forget his elegance, extravagant knowledge, perceptive behaviour. I've met his boyfriend Bertrand several times—they have been living together for over 25 years. This exceptional couple's intellectual connect with me is unparalleled. The 1980s AIDS propaganda in Europe was that all homosexuals are in trouble. I was very scared for them, but Jean Francois explained, "AIDS has obliged gays to re-invent a new sexuality, more sensual, more based on sharing moments. The fear of the damaged condom is always present in our mind. AIDS actually reinforced links in gay couples, there's more fidelity now, less sexual partners! Sexuality will always be important for us, but in a bit different way." While writing this article, I gave Jean Francois a call and found him in his country house. Bertrand and he had taken his father for a vacation there.